“William Van Cleve” was said to have been born on in 22 Dec 1781 in Freehold, Monmouth Co., NJ and died on 07 May 1828 in Dayton, Montgomery Co., OH; having been one of the original setters of Dayton, OH.
William had 4 wives, the last of which was Elizabeth “Eliza” Wright, whom he married on 08 Mar 1821.
By the early 1830's, after William Van Cleve’s death, the National Road had been surveyed on a straight line running from Springfield, OH to Richmond, IN or on a line about 10 miles north of Dayton, OH. But by the mid-1830's a group of prominent Daytonians had petitioned Congress to change to route of the road so that it ran from Springfield, OH to Dayton, OH to Eaton, OH to Richmond, IN, much to the economic advantage of Dayton. On 21 Mar 1836 "Mr. Mason, [Congressman from] Ohio, presented a series of memorials, which were laid upon the table and ordered to be printed," entitled "Against the change of location of the National Road in Dayton." Of course, those who had purchased property along the original surveyed line stood to loose significant property value, as was the case of Eliza Van Cleve, widow of William.
Below is a published letter or memorial from this Eliza Van Cleve to Congress.
1st Session [Doc. No. 184.]
AGAINST CHANGE OF LOCATION OF THE NATIONAL ROAD IN DAYTON [OH]
MARCH 21, 1836
Laid before the House, and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Mason, of Ohio, presented the following memorials, which were laid upon the table, and ordered to be printed.
To the honorable the Senate and House of Representatives
Of the United States, in Congress convened:
The memorial of Eliza Van Cleve, widow of William Van Cleve, deceased, formerly of Dayton, Ohio, respectfully represents: That, in the month of April, 1829, she purchased a lot of ground containing ten acres, situated in the county of Miami, in said State, and Richmond, Indiana; which lot, lying half a mile from any other road, was expected to be rendered valuable by that, but is so situated as to be unsuitable and inconvenient place of residence without it; and that, previous to making said purchase, she was advised that the location was permanently made, and in accordance with the inherent principles of a national work, on the nearest practicable route between certain designated points of national importance, as required by a long-established law of the United States; and that the route was remarkably straight and eligible, and could not be essentially altered, without an utter disregard of every constitutional and just principle on which the law was founded, and has been adhered to, in relation to this as well as every other part of the road.And after the notorious exertions made by certain citizens of Dayton and others, in 1830, 1831, and 1832, to change the route, had failed, your petitioner was informed that those citizens, together with the Congressional representative from the district, had reportedly given the assurance that they considered the question of a change for ever settled, and that it would never be, by them, again disturbed.Thus assured, she, in 1833, had a brick dwelling-house constructed on the aforesaid premises, conveniently situated to the road, for the accommodation of an aged mother, herself, and two young orphan children, at an expense of something more than six hundred dollars, which she was able to command only by the exercise of the strictest economy and frugality, in the application of a small annual income for the necessaries and comforts of life.Without the road, the aforesaid premises are unpleasant and inconvenient for her to occupy, and, for sale or rent, would be deprived of more than one half their value, by an abandonment of this part of the road.
Under such circumstances, your petitioner has been alarmed by a reported prospect of the success of efforts now making, in violation of former pledges and assurances, by certain persons before referred to, to procure a change in the road, so that it may pass through Dayton and Eaton.Should a change take place, could your petitioner be satisfied that the public interest required it, her disappointment might be mitigated; still, she would consider herself entitled to remuneration for a pecuniary loss to the amount of, at least, of six hundred dollars, which she will have sustained in consequence of a refusal on the part of the Government to fulfill its obligations to construct the road in the manner and direction heretofore prescribed.But, believing that such change would be only a local accommodation to those who seek it, at the public expense, she prays that the change may not be made.Should your honorable bodies, however, be of the opinion that the established laws and policy of Congress in relation to the road have heretofore been founded in error, and based on wrong principles, and that the road already commenced on the direct located route ought to be abandoned, for the purpose of constructing one through Dayton and Eaton, your memorialist prays for a just compensation for the damages which she will have sustained in consequence of having been led to rely on the former laws and acts of the General Government.All of which is very respectfully solicited by your humble memorialist.
ELIZA VAN CLEVE